Nth Ascension, are set to release their second album, In Fine Initium, on 14th October on Melodic Revolution Records, the band consisting of Alan ‘Spud’ Taylor on lead vocals, Craig Walker on drums and percussion, Darrel Treece-Birch on keyboards, Gavin Walker on bass guitar and Martin Walker on lead guitar.
On In Fine Initium the band sounds like a powerful new version of Clive Nolan’s Arena. In fact, Taylor’s vocals reminded me of some of the best of both Rob Sowden’s and Paul Wrightson’s vocal productions. The music is dark and apocalyptic, like Arena’s, the bass and drums are strong and guitars rev and roar throughout the album. Unlike other albums I have heard this year, this one is well mixed and Taylor’s vocals rise above the powerful sway of the grinding soundscape. The keyboard work throughout, and especially in the opener Kingdom Keys, sounds like another tip of the hat to Nolan.
Most of the seven songs are long with only two running at less than four minutes and three breaching 11. They have their own merits but Kingdom Keys also features a nod to Derek Dick, Marillion’s famous Fish, with his unique echoing vocals and then the repeated “A word, a word, a word, a word!” that took me right back to Market Square Heroes, Jigsaw and Emerald Lies. I could almost hear Fish’s sneer.
End of Days is as dark as the title foretells with keys, heavy bass and guitar and lyrics that warn of the coming end. However, there is a glimmering light at the end of this tunnel, which Taylor sings quietly with sincerity;
“There is no fear here.
I will not sway.
I’ll shed no tear here, no not today.
I know love will prevail,
I know love will remain.”
So, That Was the Apocalypse is an instrumental extravaganza worthy of Kansas or many other prog bands of the past. The organ is given a fine place amongst the revving lead guitars, heavy bass and pounding drums. The Cage opens with beautiful piano keys before the metal guitars join in. Yes, it almost sounds like Arena’s Welcome to the Cage, only this one ends in a more positive light.
I have read other reviews and noticed how often this music is compared to Saga. I don’t hear that much, other than maybe in the apocalyptic titles, and of course the parts 4 to 6 on the last three songs. In Search of the Rider (Clanaan Pt. 4) is the continuation of the story which unfolded on the band’s first album, Ascension of Kings released in December 2014. The story is similar to Lord of the Rings in that a mystical Rider will come to free the land from a tyrant. Forever and When the Rain Falls are further continuations of the story, the former an instrumental full of powerful guitar solos and soft keyboards, the latter seemingly bringing the Clanaan Chronicles to a close, but we’ll see. Whether someday all of these parts will be assembled, like Saga’s Chapters collection, we’ll leave to the future. There is an excellent explanation of the story laid out in the CD booklet, scribed with ink pen adding to the depth of the message and imagery.
We want our bands to create stories and provide more than just music – at least I do – and Nth Ascension fits the bill. The musicianship is worthy of praise and the storyline and vocals are just right. This is admittedly not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you would like to listen to a well written story told through music, possibly best heard through headphones, this would be a good choice. I anticipate their next album and the stories they may share.
01. Kingdom Keys (15:18)
02. End of Days (11:23)
03. So, That Was the Apocalypse (4:42)
04. The Cage (17:06)
05. In Search of the Rider [Clanaan Pt. 4] (7:47)
06. Forever [Clanaan Pt. 5] (7:46)
07. When the Rain Falls [Clanaan Pt. 6] (3:50)
Total time – 67:52
Alan Taylor – Vocals
Craig Walker – Drums & Percussion
Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards
Gavin Walker – Bass Guitar
Martin Walker – Guitars
Record Label: Melodic Revolution Records
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date Of Release: 14th October 2016